Japanese whaling group intends to resume its hunts

Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:41am EDT
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TOKYO (Reuters) - The group that conducts Japan's whaling says it expects to resume scientific whaling in the Antarctic after this year's hunt was canceled following an order by an international court.

Last month's judgment by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered a halt to Japan's decades-old program of "scientific whaling" in the Southern Ocean, a practice environmentalists condemn, but Tokyo said it would abide by the decision and has canceled the 2014-2015 hunt.

But court papers filed in the United States by the Institute for Cetacean Research, which, with Kyodo Senpaku, actually carries out the whaling, said they expect to conduct hunts in future seasons - albeit with a modified program.

In the filing in a Seattle court last week, the two groups sought an injunction against Sea Shepherd, an environmental group that has pursued Japan's whaling ships during their Antarctic hunts over the past few years. They noted that the Japanese government had not granted permits for the next season.

"Plaintiffs expect they will be conducting a Southern Ocean research program for subsequent seasons that would be in accord with the ICJ decision," they added, according to the papers, which were obtained by Reuters.

An Institute spokesman declined to comment, citing the court case and adding that any decisions about whether it would resume whaling would be made by the government.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday reiterated that the government has yet to make a decision but it may not take much longer.

"At the moment we are carefully analyzing the content of the ruling," Suga told a news conference. "After analyzing what the issues are, the government will come up with a policy course."

Japan has long maintained that most whale species are in no danger of extinction and scientific whaling is necessary to manage what it sees as a marine resource that, after World War Two, was an important protein source for an impoverished nation.   Continued...

Sea Shepherd vessel "The Bob Barker" is pictured in contact with the port side stern of Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru in the Southern Ocean in this February 2, 2014 handout photo by the Institute of Cetacean Research. REUTERS/Institute of Cetacean Research/Handout via Reuters